The Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project, a 1,700km long rail line worth $16 billion to the Australian economy over the next 50 year, is set to make tracks in 2018, according to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

At the National Local Roads and Transport Congress, hosted by the Australian Local Government Association in Toowoomba, ARTC said construction of the first stages of the project is well on track to commence in 2018.

"The project is now two years into the 10 year $10.5 billion program."

The Congress focused how governments of all levels can work together to plan for the future demand of Australia’s transport industry. The head offices for the project will be in Brisbane with satellite offices in Sydney and Toowoomba.

A number of additional study areas along the proposed route in NSW and Queensland are being evaluated by ARTC after feedback from the community, local Councils, peak bodies and landowners.

Parkes Shire Mayor and Chair of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Alliance, Cr Ken Keith OAM, attended the congress and said the news is encouraging for the region.

"This is a positive step forward in the process of ensuring that as a nation we have an efficient and reliable rail freight network. The announcement that the project is on track is encouraging news for regional Australia and a great win for regional communities along the route."

"This critical piece of National Infrastructure and will open up a 'corridor of opportunity' from Brisbane to Melbourne, with Parkes uniquely positioned to leverage economically. The Inland Rail is set to generate $1.8 billion for Northern Western and Central NSW and $2.6 billion for the whole of NSW," the Mayor said.

New state-of-the-art equipment is set to be used in the construction of the Inland Rail, which will require 1.6 million sleepers, 2.5 million tonnes of ballast and 138,000 tonnes of rail. It is hoped that much of these products will be sourced and procured locally enhancing local economies along the proposed route, including the Parkes Shire.

In September, the Australian Government’s Department of Finance invited the private sector to register its interest in the design, construction, delivery and financing of the Inland Rail project. ARTC added that the market testing process has shown strong interest from the private sector, with a report to be finalised by March next year regarding opportunities for investment in the Inland Rail, in time for consideration in the next Federal Budget.

For more information about the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail visit www.inlandrail.artc.com.au

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